Friday, January 9, 2009

Festive Cheer

Wishing all my "visitors" happiness and success for the new year!

During the holiday season we spent some time with our daughter and son-in-law, who live and work in Port Elizabeth - and today's photos "stem" from that visit. Since all 4 of us enjoy birding and wildlife, we "couldn't resist" taking a "walk on the wild side".

Whilst taking a "break" during our walk through Settler's Valley, this dragonfly came to rest on a flower-stalk at the river and right next to me. I noticed that it's 2 "back" wings were damaged - probably the result of a fierce aerial combat with a rival, in which dragonflies tend to engage regularly.

Did you know that there are about 130 species of dragonflies in South Africa? [Not to be confused with the less robust and less active damselflies].

The Addo National Park (less than an hour's drive from PE) is famous for its elephants - but the other tusk-bearing animal, the warthog, is also "well-presented" in this park. Whilst feeding, this animal often goes down on its front knees to make the task of digging for underground food easier. This animal gets its name from 2 pairs of wart-like skin outgrowths on the face - one set just below the eyes and the other on the cheeks (far more pronounced on the males).

Did you know that the tusks of a warthog are actually upper canine teeth curled upwards?

It looks as if this tortoise is sticking out its tongue - it was actually feeding. Instead of teeth, the upper jaw of a tortoise is equipped with a smooth, horn-like cutting edge and the lower jaw with a serrated one.

In South African terminology, tortoises are land animals; turtles = sea-dwelling; and terrapins = fresh water species.

Did you know that all reptiles are creatures of a very ancient "lineage"? Their "ancestors" roamed earth (and seas) even before dinosaurs "held sway".

I don't understand how this appealing bird, a dikkop (English equivalent = "thickhead") got its name!? We detected this Spotted dikkop also in Addo. This bird tends to run off, head down, before it flies away when disturbed, but in this case, it just looked "crossly" at us, because its female was sitting brooding on her nest close by - and right next to the road!

Can't this Cape bulbul read?

Did you know that 'bulbul' is an Arabic word? And that it was the "name" for a Persian nightingale?

In SA, bulbuls are less fabulous birds, but some of them do utter melodious and cheerful calls.

Our son-in-law suggested that we go on a night-game drive. Unfortunately (and probably because of windy conditions that night) we didn't encounter many night-active animals. But this pair of male lions certainly was a "treat".

King of the jungle? This generally greedy and lazy cat?

Do these 2 Burchell's zebra "share a secret"? It certainly looks as if the one is whispering into the other's ear!?

Zebra are unique to Africa but probably counts as one of the most photographed of wild animals.

Did you know that a zebra's stripes are as unique as a human's fingerprint?

Hallo!! Do this Cape gannet and African penguin also "share a secret"? Cetainly looks like it!?

I photographed this pair at BayWorld (Oceanarium) in PE. Previously known as the Jackass penguin (because of its donkey-like braying, which it exhibits on its breeding grounds), this is the only penguin species resident on the African continent.

Yet and to my delight, I also discovered this "resident" Rockhopper penguin at BayWorld. This species is known as a vagrant on our shores - individuals occasionally visit the Cape coast. Otherwise it's a summer breeder on Bouvet, Marion and Prince Edward Islands. The rockhopper's head-plumes make it an "interesting" bird to photograph - as the next and the last photo today, "testifies".

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